Wireless Waterways

Mar 31, 2014 Transportation & Infrastructure

For more than a year, the Port of Pittsburgh Commission (PPC) has been working on the development of a broadband wireless network for use by barges and other river traffic.

The Wireless Waterways project is a neutral, wireless broadband network that improves maritime security by connecting proprietary, stove-piped and stand-alone systems into a "system of systems" to improve river safety, security, and efficiency as well as provide environment situational awareness. It provides network connectivity to all of the locks in the PPC area of responsibility along the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers.

According to James McCarville, executive director, PPC, "we have already deployed an initial phase of a Wireless Waterway along 100 river miles in Pennsylvania on the Ohio River, Allegheny River and Monongahela Rivers; an Interoperability Test Bed along Pittsburgh's downtown rivers; and a Maritime Situational Awareness Portal."

"PPC has also patented a virtual navigation tool called, SmartLock," adds McCarville. "And we have completed a number of related studies developed with Carnegie Mellon University. One study, River-Net, demonstrates ways to streamline communications between the navigation industry and government agencies that oversee the waterways."

Moving forward, the PPC has issued a Request For Information (RFI) for the Wireless Waterways project. The PPC is looking for feedback, information and materials related to the design, development, implementation testing, operation, maintenance and support of its Wireless Waterway Project. If you are interested in responding, you can download the RFI here.

In addition, Pittsburgh Port Technology Inc. is looking for students and volunteers to facilitate and evaluate the technology participants for the next Wireless Interoperability Test Bed exercises to be held June 2014. Click here for more information and application

The PPC anticipates that with the proper partners, investment and fee structure, this project can be extended nation-wide along the rivers; provide technical assistance to third parties in the design and management of that expansion; generate user based income; and be self-sustaining.